ExxonMobil reports 'breakthrough' in algae biofuel research
ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics announced a "breakthrough" in biofuels research involving the modification of an algae strain that more than doubled its oil content without significantly inhibiting the strain's growth. The ExxonMobil-Synthetic Genomics team modified an algae strain to enhance its oil content from 20% to more than 40%. Results of the research were published today in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Biotechnology. "Researchers at Synthetic Genomics' laboratory in La Jolla discovered a new process for increasing oil production by identifying a genetic switch that could be fine-tuned to regulate the conversion of carbon to oil... The team established a proof-of-concept approach that resulted in the algae doubling its lipid fraction of cellular carbon compared to the parent -- while sustaining growth," the companies explained. "This key milestone in our advanced biofuels program confirms our belief that algae can be incredibly productive as a renewable energy source," commented ExxonMobil.